Eddie Van Halen is considered one of the best guitarists in the world who has inspired millions of guitar players all over the globe. He has changed the way people play electric guitar and guess what? It’s for the best.
This Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is one of the most legendary guitarists to ever exist. His play is one of the very best and according to him, it is his unique style that he invented. Without a doubt, his style of play is very unique and it is one prominent reason why Van Halen is one of the best-selling bands with more than 80 million records sold worldwide.
Halen has mentioned that he didn’t like the playing style of others and so, he had to create his style of play himself, which worked out very well. He has mentioned that over the years that he has had a few inspirations and idols, which helped him to create his own path.
Back in 1981, he explained to Guitar World that, “Clapton was it. I knew every note he played. That’s what I was known for around the home. Me, Alex and another bass player called ourselves Mammoth and we were the junior Cream,”.
He went on to add, “I haven’t heard anyone do a long interesting guitar solo outside of early Clapton. I do a guitar solo in the live show which is long. Some people may think it’s boring, but I have fun. Clapton was my favorite.”
The interviewer also requested an explanation on why he was so influenced by Clapton and he simply replied, “It’s funny. When I do interviews and tell people Clapton was my main influence, they go ‘Who?’ Because they’re thinking about Clapton doing ‘Lay Down Sally’, not the Bluesbreakers or Cream.”
“I haven’t heard anyone do a long interesting guitar solo outside of early Clapton. I do a guitar solo in the live show which is long. Some people may think it’s boring, but I have fun. Clapton was my favorite.”
Also, his Rolling Stone interview all the way back in 2011 also shed some light on Eric Clapton being his all-time favorite guitarist. He went on about how much he loved Cream. As when he was asked about pre-Cream stuff.
He replied, “Actually after Cream I dug back a little bit to the Bluesbreakers stuff, but my favorite stuff was when he was in Cream. Which was only a couple, three years.”
His list was not only filled with Eric. It was filled with guitarists like Ritchie Blackmore, Allan Holdsworth, Tony Iommi, and even Jimi Hendrix at some point in his time even though he was never into the musician. He even went on to explain the reason saying he couldn’t afford equipment like Wah-Wah pedals when he was young.
Eddie Van Halen had a great interest in rock and metal which made a great impression on him. Eddie was one of the most talented guitarists in the world. He ranks 8th on the list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time published by Rolling Stone and this was all because of his hard work and the inspirations who influenced him.
He went on to list a lot of guitarists who influenced him but the most significant one always falls to Eric Clapton. Eddie died on October 6, 2020, at the age of 65 due to throat cancer but will still be an inspiration for all guitarists and musicians all over the globe.
Eddie Van Halen’s favorite guitarists
Van Halen has listed some of his favorite guitarists who also inspired him. And although his playing style might differ from the ones that inspired him, he still mentioned them as his favorites. Everyone who listens to him knows that he was a person who was deeply into classic rock.
Furthermore, talking about Van Halen’s inspirations, one of the famous guitar players who inspired him was none other than Eric Clapton. He said about Clapton, “Clapton was it. I knew every note he played. That’s what I was known for around home. Me, Alex and another bass player called ourselves Mammoth and we were the junior Cream, I haven’t heard anyone do a long interesting guitar solo outside of early Clapton. I do a guitar solo in the live show which is long. Some people may think it’s boring, but I have fun. Clapton was my favourite.”
Moreover, he even said that Clapton was his main inspiration he added, “It’s funny. When I do interviews and tell people Clapton was my main influence, they go ‘Who?’ Because they’re thinking about Clapton doing ‘Lay Down Sally’, not the Bluesbreakers or Cream.”
However, Clapton alone was not an inspiration to Van Halen. Another guitarist that really inspired him was British jazz guitar player Allan Holdsworth. Back in 1993, Eddie told Guitar World that Holdsworth was the last guitar player who moved him. Moreover, he even revealed in the interview that he wanted to work with him.
Additionally, he also helped Holdsworth get the Warner Brothers deal. Van Halen found out that Holdsworth was not earning anything even though he was a great musician. Moreover, Holdsworth was about to sell his music equipment to support his kids and wife and after finding this out, Eddie could not sit still. He said in an interview, “I called Ted (Templeman), our producer, and I said ‘God damn it. Check this guy out, he is hot! He might be a little out there, he might be a little spaced out.” Furthermore, talking about Holdsworth’s playing ability Eddie said, “You could play any chord change once and he could improvised over it.”
Another guitarist who Van Halen mentioned as his favorite is one of the founding members of the popular English rock band Deep Purple, Ritchie Blackmore.
Back in 2015, Van Halen told Billboard that one of his favorite riffs is from Deep Purple’s song ‘Burn’ which was featured in their 1974 album with the same title. The song Burn was composed by Blackmore. Moreover, in 2011, he was in an interview with Rolling Stone where he revealed why he liked Blackmore.
He said, “Ritchie Blackmore I liked because of his vibrato bar use on ‘Deep Purple in Rock’ (1970). Also, they come out with great riffs. I mean, come on, ‘Smoke on the Water’ is one for the history books.”
Hendrix was one of the very few guitar players whose skills were unbelievable and certainly, there was no way that Hendrix did not inspire Van Halen. He revealed to Guitar World in an interview back in the early 80s and said that he learned to hold his pick when doing the harmonics from Hendrix.
He said, “Jimi Hendrix influenced me on how to hold the pick when I do the harmonics. I saw the Hendrix movie and discovered where the pick goes when it disappears. He holds it between the joints of his middle finger. I pick weird too. I use the thumb and the middle finger.”
However, even though Hendrix influenced him, he was not a fan of Hendrix’s work and he revealed in Rolling Stone‘s interview in 2011 that he never bought Hendrix’s records.
Van Halen’s other inspiration came from the Black Sabbath’s guitarist Tony Iommi. Although Van Halen was not a big fan of Tony, he was crazy about Tony’s band. In fact, Eddie’s band Van Halen’s name was originally going to be Rat Salad because of Eddie’s obsession with Black Sabbath.
Van Halen’s other inspiration came from The frontman and guitarist of the band, The Who, Pete Townshend. He revealed it in his interview with Rolling Stone.
Pete also paid tribute to Van Halen after his death. Furthermore, it was also revealed that Pete Townshend hooked Eddie with Michael Jackson for his song ‘Bad.’